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Yoga, as most people have come to know it, is a mental and physical discipline that combines simple meditation with specific stretching techniques. The practice has ancient roots in eastern culture and it migrated to western culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Yoga as exercise has a long history in the United States, but did not attract the attention of popular culture until the 1980s. There are number of different kinds of yoga, but the discipline making headlines most recently is referred to as SuperBrain Yoga.
This form of yoga comes from the south of India where it is known as Thoppukaranam. Advocates claim that practicing these techniques on a regular basis can enhance brain functions and improve mood. In other words, they believe superbrain yoga makes you smarter and happier.
Thoppukaranam has received enough attention that even the National Institute of Health published a study, originally released in the International Journal of Yoga (IJOY), about its effects on selective attention and psychological states.
How Do You Do SuperBrain Yoga?
It is suggested that superbrain yoga should be performed in the morning.
1. Remove any jewelry and face east
2. Roll the tongue inward and up, against the roof and soft palate of the mouth
3. Raise the left arm above shoulder level, palm open, and then reach for your right earlobe
4. Hold the outside of your earlobe with your left thumb and the back of your earlobe with the index and middle finger
5. Raise the right arm above shoulder level, palm open, and then cross over your left arm, reach for the left earlobe, holding it in the exact same fashion as the right
6. Inhale deeply through the nose and squat as low as possible to the floor and hold the position for three seconds
7. Exhale while returning to a standing position
8. Repeat the process seven times, for a total of seven cycles
While there have not been any in depth third-party studies on the benefits of super brain yoga, Dr. Eugenius Ang, Jr., a Yale University neurobiologist practices the technique every day. In an interview, Dr. Ang told CBS 2 News that super brain activates neural pathways in the brain through acupuncture points in the earlobe.
“In modern terms,” Ang said in the interview, “the brain is actually lateralized. So holding the left ear, actually activates the right brain and holding the right ear actually activates the left brain.” Ang added that EEG image scans of the brain during and after several minutes of this yoga form show this to be true.
The evidence surrounding superbrain yoga is less than definitive, though it continues to gain momentum among supporters. Some occupational therapists employing the discipline have reported benefits for teens and children suffering cognitive disorders, such as attention deficit hyper-activity disorder (ADHD) and autism, to seniors coping with dementia.
Whether or not superbrain yoga is a means to improving your intelligence and mood is up for debate, but overall, yoga is a useful tool in maintaining health and wellness.